Proper estate planning protects the people and things that matter most to you. That’s why it is so important but also daunting. So where do you start? An excellent first step is to contact your trusted estate planning attorney. In the meantime, you can learn more about what to expect by reading our guide to estate planning in Las Vegas

Who Needs Estate Planning?

This is the easiest question to answer. Every adult needs estate planning to some degree. Estate planning encompasses more than dividing a large estate among family members. It also includes your end-of-life care, what happens to your finances when you pass away, and even who will care for your pets or children if you can’t. Everyone deserves a say in what happens to the legacy they’ve built, and proper estate planning helps Las Vegas residents do that.   

Why Is Estate Planning In Las Vegas Important? 

You’ve spent a lifetime building wealth, loving your family and friends, and enjoying your property. You can protect all of these things after you’re gone with smart estate planning in Las Vegas. Even people with a small estate or few surviving relatives can benefit. No matter your situation, there are many reasons to work on your estate plan sooner than later. With good estate planning, you can 

  • Ensure your wishes concerning your assets are honored after you die. 
  • Prevent confusion and conflict among your family. 
  • Provide for loved ones after you’re gone. 
  • Help your heirs receive their inheritance fast with minimal stress. 
  • Choose who will care for dependents in the case of your untimely death. 
  • Leave a last gift to friends, family, or organizations and causes you support. 
  • Minimize or avoid the inconvenience and expense of the probate process
  • Plan for your own care if you become incapacitated.
  • Reduce inheritance taxes. 

How To Get Started On Estate Planning

Now that you know how important estate planning is, where do you start? The first step is to find an experienced attorney who offers estate planning services. Once you have an appointment with an attorney, here are a few more steps that will help you get started on estate planning in Las Vegas: 

  1. Make a complete list of your assets. This includes bank, investment, and retirement accounts, life insurance, and real estate. You should also note how you own these assets (in your sole name or jointly) and where these assets are kept. 
  2. Make a list of your debts. Write down mortgages, car loans, credit card debt, and other debts that may come out of your estate.
  3. Collect relevant documents. Your attorney can tell you exactly what you’ll need, but any legal documents associated with your assets are a good place to start. That includes titles and deeds, beneficiary forms, and proof of financial accounts.
  4. Pick your beneficiaries. Your attorney can advise you on how to legally divide and distribute your estate, but you must decide what family members, friends, and organizations will inherit your assets.
  5. Think about who could be your executor, POA, etc. Wills, trusts, and powers of attorney require someone to act on your behalf when you cannot. Who can you trust to fill those roles?

Why You Should Work With An Estate Planning Attorney

Even if you feel your estate planning will be straightforward, you should work with an attorney. An experienced estate planning attorney can walk you through all your options, spot holes in your plans, and ensure everything is notarized and filed appropriately. They know the latest Nevada estate laws and will answer all your questions better than the internet can. The last thing you want is for your family to lose part of their inheritance or face financial burdens because you made a DIY mistake. 

Common Estate Planning Documents And What They Are

Estate planning in Las Vegas requires a lot of paperwork. But don’t worry. Your attorney will be able to explain everything before you sign. They will also help you decide what legal documents you need to meet your estate planning goals. Not everyone needs the same documents, but here’s a list of some common ones: 

  • Last will and testament: outlines how you want your assets distributed and who you want to care for your dependents upon your death.
  • Living will: explains your wishes for end-of-life care if you become terminally ill and incapacitated.
  • Medical power of attorney: gives an individual you trust authority to make decisions about your medical care if you cannot. Also called a healthcare proxy.
  • Financial power of attorney: gives a person of your choosing the authority to make and execute financial decisions for you when you cannot.
  • Trust: gives a chosen trustee the power to hold assets for the benefit of your named beneficiaries. There are many types of trusts.
  • Beneficiary forms: include forms for IRAs, 401(k) plans, and life insurance that name beneficiaries for these funds upon your death. 

Important Decisions You Should Make During Estate Planning

Your attorney knows what to discuss and advise during estate planning in Las Vegas. But you will make all the crucial decisions. Those include 

  • Who will be your executor, trustee, or power of attorney agent? They must be legally adults and competent, but beyond that, it’s your choice.
  • How to meaningfully divide your estate. You can reduce your loved ones’ stress by naming your heirs and deciding what they get now. 
  • Who to name as beneficiaries on financial policies. Things like your 401(k) and life insurance policy require you to name at least one beneficiary if you haven’t already.
  • Who will care for your dependents? You’ll need to choose someone to care for minor children, handicapped dependents, or pets if you cannot in the future. 
  • How to preserve or end your business. If you own a business, you need a solid plan for how to keep it going, pass it to partners, or close it in case you die unexpectedly. 
  • End-of-life care and life-saving measures. You can make medical decisions per your preferences now in case you become incapacitated at some point.

When And How To Update Your Plans

Estate planning is rarely a one-time project. As your life circumstances change, you will need to update your estate planning documents. You will need to make changes when you 

  • Experience changes in the family. Births, marriages, divorces, and deaths may require changes to your beneficiaries and how you divide your assets. When you have children, you’ll want to choose a caregiver in case of your untimely death. 
  • Have changes in assets. You’ll need to tweak your plans if you acquire or lose valuable assets. Bought a vacation home? Add it to your will. Sold the vacation home? Remove it from your will.
  • Move out of state. State laws differ, so if you’ve moved to or out of Nevada recently, you’ll want to review your estate plans with an attorney in your new area.
  • Have a change of heart about anything. Sometimes feelings change, and you need to update your plans. You might fall out with a beneficiary and decide to remove them from your will. Or, perhaps, you fall in love with a charitable organization and wish to leave it some money. 
  • Need to change trustees or executors. Sometimes things change, and a trusted executor or trustee can no longer fill that role. In this case, choose someone to replace them and have new documents drawn up ASAP. 

To change your estate plans, simply contact your attorney. They will explain your options and help you make the updates you want. They can draw up new documents and remind you of other considerations you might have previously overlooked. 

Start Estate Planning In Las Vegas With The Attorneys Of Williams Starbuck

When you’re ready to start your estate planning, call the experts at Williams Starbuck. Our attorneys are well-versed in estate planning in Las Vegas and will guide you through the process from start to finish and beyond. When we finish, you’ll have a watertight estate plan that protects your family and assets. To request a free consultation and learn more, contact us at 1-702-660-9847 or send us a message below.